Seven dusts a show off the shelf and takes a dive in the shallow end of the pool.
2017 has been the year of family entertainment hits: Australian Ninja Warrior, Little Big Shots and True Story with Hamish & Andy.
That’s all the motivation Seven needed to dust off Cannonball and cross their fingers. Question is, why has this been sitting on the shelf since 2016? Answer: they’ve seen the show.
Despite all the lessons learned from Celebrity Splash here we are again, “poolside” in Penrith for TV’s latest attempt to recapture the success of It’s a Knockout (the last was TEN’s Malaysian based el-cheapo knock-off of in 2011).
Cannonball is boisterously hosted by former Wonderland pals Ben Mingay and Tim Ross, with Rachael Finch. The thinly-veiled gameplay consists of 12 pairs facing 4 challenges, most eliminated until there are 2 teams who will proceed to a grand final. Up for grabs in the grand final are two cars, and there are various cash give-aways along the way.
A grandstand with cheering crowd (points for endurance, people) watches on as gung-ho duos named Tatt’s Gotta Hurt, Splash Brothers and Little Dawgs barrel down a slide, propelling themselves into the air to see how far they can make it. It doesn’t appear to require much talent other than holding on for dear life, but hey I haven’t tried it.
Whilst Mingay and “T.Ross” pad out the first team’s attempt with various reactions, a director thought it would be a good idea to see it again. In slo-mo. Six times (or part thereof) -before we are put through the wringer with the next teams.
What you see is what you get here. It’s a glorified water slide with two blokes on it. It isn’t worthy of 2 replays, let alone 6.
Subsequent rounds which score on speed and height (including someone catapulted into the air off a giant inflatable ‘pillow’) arrive at a similar outcome. The final challenge, using a Tarzan swing to land in scored rings at least requires some knack for accuracy.
But here’s my problem. We’ve all seen Ninja Warrior. We’ve been spoiled by sheer athleticism, glistening bodies, and ridiculous challenges that made for high drama. None of that is on display here. At one hour it’s too long, looking flat in daylight hours and I was frustrated by commentators who shouted too much. I’m not in the grandstand, I’m on the couch and you have a microphone….?
I’m not convinced, despite Ben Mingay & Tim Ross’ attempts to find the humour, that Cannonball measures up to Wipeout, It’s a Knockout or even the Birdman Rally. I did end up playing “Spot the Drone” a fair bit.
Each episode also features two “star jumpers” in a guest appearance. I had to struggle to remember who Alex & Gareth are from My Kitchen Rules. Turns out they cooked off in 2016, another telltale sign of this show’s cobwebs. Steve “Commando” Lewis is the most high-profile name in episode 2.
The one thing I will say in its favour: there are no backstories. You won’t have to endure sob stories of someone overcoming bullying at school or who has a child battling illness. I suppose kids may find something to enjoy here but this is a show that should have been summer filler (or better yet, avoided altogether).
In 2013 I was publicly mocked by a Seven exec for branding Celebrity Splash one of the year’s blunders. It launched with 1.31m viewers (against The Voice‘s 2.02m) before a series of injuries, resignations, programming reschedules and a fourth-rated grand final of 650,000.
If Cannonball can manage any episodes above 650,000 Seven should probably count itself lucky.
Cannonball airs 7:30pm Wednesday on Seven.